Celebrated fashion designer Phillip Lim has just one hard-and-fast rule for dressing for the fall. “Throw out that rulebook and have fun,” he says. “Fashion is your armor, your cloak, your superpower. So always wear what makes you feel the most confident.”
Lim has already adhered to his credo. After taking a self-imposed four-year hiatus to focus on advocating for underserved communities, he made a triumphant return to New York Fashion Week in September to debut his spring/summer 2024 3.1 Phillip Lim Collection. The clothes, which combined neutrals with bright pops of color and expert tailoring, stunned the crowd. But Lim, a fixture on the style scene for almost 20 years, notes that there was a message beyond the seams.
The designer shares that in the last four years, what changed for him was his ability to define his brand as an “Asian American fashion brand for change.” “I didn’t have those words four years ago,” he says. “We are the wardrobe for the modern global citizen, or we are classic with a sense of madness, but we are, at our core, about community, representation and inclusivity — we have a platform and a purpose. The last four years have made me realize how important it is to lead with your values and what you stand for.”
To celebrate his big night, Lim, who partnered with British multinational alcohol beverage company Diageo to mark the return of his collection to the runway, toasted with a Baileys Chocolate Liqueur. “Partnering with Diageo on this journey has been an incredible opportunity to merge fashion with a profound message of inclusivity and acceptance,” he shares. “This continued collaboration represents a powerful trifecta of creativity, individuality and social responsibility.”
Below, the fashion designer shares some of his fall fashion picks with CNN Underscored.
For a seasonal fragrance, Lim selects a “niche” scent that features base notes of transparent wood and moss, middle notes of jasmine, peony and orange blossom and top notes of bergamot, lychee and peach. “It’s amazing,” he says. “It’s a little woodsy, a little musky and you will never smell it on anyone else.”
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Throwback time: “I scour vintage stores for old school work shirts and chore jackets from the 90s,” Lim says. “They are some of the most essential items in my wardrobe.” On the denim front, he singles out this 100 percent washed sherpa-lined jacket with a pleated back and hand warmer pockets.
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So what if we’re long past Labor Day? As Lim puts it, “There is nothing more effortless, more cool and easy chic than white tennis shoes.” He notes that his casual sneakers include a vulcanized rubber sole, which makes them “incredibly durable, weather-resistant and comfortable.”
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His go-to accessory for all seasons? An ID bracelet such as the oval pendant on this chain bracelet, which is crafted from recycled 18-karat gold. “It’s a classic,” he says. “I never take mine off.” He adds that his piece inspired the I.D. Shoulder Bag that went down the runway for his most recent spring/summer collection.
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The designer wears Prada! “These elevate any look,” he says. “They never go out of style and are that perfect combination of edgy and parochial. Lim wears his imported-from-Italy loafers with both a suit and denim.
The white or blue button-down is a classic for a reason. “This is a foundation piece that you can build an entire look around,” he says. (Or style it simply and “feel instantly pulled together.”) His top pick is made from 100 percent cotton and boasts buttoned cuffs and a front-button closure.
“What I love the most about fall is outerwear,” Lim says. “I am all about jackets and layering!” His favorite: This oversized women’s parka from his new fall collection, which is enhanced by a faux-fur trim, a draped split-zipped hood and a drawstring waist. “It’s essential for running errands on frigid days because it’s the one coat you throw on when you need one piece to just keep you warm,” he explains.
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